Well, today is tax filing day and I’ve often wondered just where my taxes go. I’ve often thought that given the extant technological capabilities, and the normative desire for more direct forms of democracy, that each and every taxpaying citizen should be given the opportunity not only to file her taxes electronically, but to be able to specifically allocate her tax dollars to the uses that she sees fit. How would you choose to allocate your tax dollars? How does the federal government choose to allocate its tax dollars? Look at the figure below–from the Office of Management and Budget–to see what the Federal government spends its money on. This graph goes a long way to undermining the demagoguery of politicians when talking about taxes and spending. When a politician tells you that he is going to cut taxes and does not mention spending cuts, then he is playing politics (unless, of course, he thinks that budget deficits are a non-issue).
The fact is that discretionary spending is a small minority (18%) of total spending. In order to put a real dent in the budget deficit and the federal debt (two different–but related–concepts), you must cut entitlements, cut defense spending, raise taxes, or a combination of the three.
Happy Tax Day!
H/T Andrew Sullivan